Home       About Me       Review Index

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bookish Spotlight: The Unprotected by Kelly Sokal



They say motherhood changes you.

As a driven advertising executive, Lara James has always put her career before any plans for a family, preferring professional chic to stay-at-home style. But after her father’s death, she realizes she’s ready. More than ready, in fact. Yet pregnancy—something other women seem to accomplish effortlessly, even accidentally—doesn’t come easily to Lara. What began as an adventure quickly becomes a nightmare as she and her husband endure endless IVF treatments, hormone therapy, and devastating miscarriages.

When Lara at last becomes pregnant and gives birth to a daughter, Auden, she believes their determination has paid off. But Auden cries day and night, ear-shattering screams that strip Lara of her nerves and energy. Her life as a sleep-deprived new mother is unrelenting, and, guiltily, Lara can’t help but mourn for what she once had. With her marriage crumbling, Lara is increasingly driven to alarming thoughts and destructive actions she would never have imagined possible before now. Hanging on by a thread, it’s only in her darkest moment that Lara will discover the true depths of her love and devotion—and what she’s willing to face for the family she’s so desperately sought.

Hello Everyone!

I don't often do this pick a book out and feature it her eon the blog, but in the spirit of change, I thought I'd give it a go.

I don't think I have seen many books out there that focus on postpartum depression (that may be just be me and my little bubble though). When I saw talk of Kelly Sokal's debut, The Unprotected, on Twitter,  I knew it was something I wanted to explore. Mental health is a much discussed topic right now (as it should be), and I really appreciate it's presence in fiction. Postpartum depression is a very real condition and it appears in up to 20% of new moms, yet it still carries such a stigma.

So, I will be reading The Unprotected soon, and I would encourage any of you to join me. We can coordinate and maybe have a virtual book club of sorts.

I was lucky enough to grab a little sneak peak into the book- which I get to share with you all below. Enjoy



At thirty-nine years old, all Lara James wanted was a baby. The last two years of baby lust overpowered the previous thirty-seven of pleased childlessness. Her old self would be ashamed of her. Lara didn't care. She doubted the doctor behind the heavy doors, her husband, God, the universe, knew how much she wanted a child, what she was willing to offer in return. The defined curve of her bicep went underused. Her calves could bounce and dance. Unbidden, her hand curved into a loose cup, ready to support the warm, pulsing weight of a newborn skull. Iterations of the word baby or child tickled the soft inner flesh of her lips, waiting to be flung out into the world.

Lara still would not admit how desperate she was for motherhood, not out loud, even sitting quietly in the lobby of the One Hope Fertility Clinic. The calendar on her phone blocked out two hours for an "off-site meeting." Between Lara and Kathy, off-site meant anything from a lunch to woo potential clients, to Pilates, maybe a bikini wax. The dog-eared paper planner inside Lara's smooth briefcase read only: O.H. blood draw and intro. Her bank statements and health insurance forms, the step-by-step guide to filing fertility treatment reimbursement requests spoke the truth: $647 for six months of Clomid; ten ovulation test kits; eight double-pack home-pregnancy tests; co-pays to her ob-gyn; then the $275 out-of-pocket fertility consultation fee. A baby? Priceless. Will wouldn't look for those expenses; finance was Lara's domain. Nonetheless, she alternated between paying with credit and debit cards and handing the pharmacist cash.

Buy the Book:

Chapters/Indigo
Barnes and Noble

There you have it, a look into what I am looking forward to reading. I hope you will join me.

~Happy Reading Everyone 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly



Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast’s castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she became a prisoner, seem within reach again.

The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her glamorous conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she has ever wished for. But what about her friends in the Beast’s castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore’s world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever.


Hi everyone,

We all know about my Beauty and the Beast obsession, and when I saw this book at the library I knew I had to read it. I mean look at that cover! I always wanted that library from the movie!

It was so great to be back in this world; it felt like this book was a continuation to the animated made-for-DVD sequels Disney produced way back when (all of which I own of course ;) the Christmas one was my childhood favourite). It was really great to see the enchanted creatures get more of a staring role in this, we find out more about the secondary characters like Plumette (can someone write her own book already?!!).

The prologue felt maybe a little out of place at the beginning, but it all makes sense when you finish reading. I actually thought maybe I was reading the wrong book when I finished the prologue, but it didn't fit into any traditional Beauty and the Beast world that I know about.

I enjoyed that this book was able to give us another peek into Belle's and the Beast's relationship and we got to see it grow and come together more. The Beast seemed a bit more toned down in here than the abrasive nature he has in both movies (although, side note: I felt he was more rude in the animated and a bit nicer in the live action) and he seemed to act more human (cue music for Human Again!). It was nice to see their friendship blossom in a different context.

Belle was just as book loving as always and talked about books throughout. Her friendship with Chip was explored some more in here and I just loved her and Chip's scenes together.

Then we come across Nevermore, a place that feels like Narnia mixed with Wonderland. Nevermore is a place where nothing is as it seems and the tale of Persephone comes into the mix. I think I loved Nevermore the best because it wasn't just a textbook world; it was dark and scary and unpredictable. It was different than a Disney tale world, filled with twists and unexpected turns.

The only negative would be how rushed the ending felt, maybe everyone was wrapped up a little too much...I won't give any spoilers away though so I'll end it at that.

However, I loved the short chapters and I basically read this whole thing in one setting. It made me feel like I was back to being a child and I can't lie, I was two when the animated got released. I'm so happy I was able to read this and enjoy the world of Beauty and the Beast again.

A solid 4 star read here and I highly recommend it for any Beauty and the Beast fans. Fairy tales will always be a book love of mine!

Until my next review,

Stefanie

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sara's Thoughts: I Found You by Lisa


A young bride, a lonely single mother, and an amnesiac man of dubious origin lie at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s next suspenseful drama that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins.

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.


**Review copy received from Simon and Schuster Canada for my honest review***

Guys, mysteries and thrillers have been my jam lately. I have been finding them SO much fun to read. I love trying to figure out what's happening, who did what, I love it. So when I saw Lisa Jewell's newest thriller I Found You available for review, I jumped on the opportunity- I was pretty excited to get this one read.

I Found You is my kind of book- The story is really a three in one- which is something I love. I really enjoy these intricate, multi-layered stories- trying to figure where they connect, because you know they do, somewhere and somehow.  In this particular story we have a man who has forgotten everything, he doesn't know his name, where he comes from or how he got to the tiny seaside town. Than there is Alice, the single mother with a bleeding heart, who can't help but be drawn to this nameless man. Finally, Lily, the young bride new to the country, whose husband has recently disappeared. Three stories with three narrators and in some way all three are connected.

While Lisa Jewell has a number of novels under her belt, I Found You is the first book I read of her and I am pretty sure I will be checking out her other books, I really enjoyed this read. Sometimes with any type of thriller or mystery novel, they can end up being very predictable and cliche, a been there done that, kind of thing. I did not experience that with I Found You- there were a few times I would assume I had everything figured out and would continue reading through that lens and bam- something would happen and I would be second guessing my theories. This made for a very fun reading experience. I also appreciated that the story was told from the past and the present and trying to figure out how that was also connected. One would think this would become convoluted and confusing, but it was pretty clear what was happening and when.

I Found You is a pretty character based story, and is very much told through the characters and their experiences and feelings. Because of this, you really get to know them and start rooting for them all. I am a fan of stories that are pretty character focused seeing things unfold through their eyes.

Overall, I Found You was a solid read and I am excited to read more from Jewell as soon as I can. I think if you're new to the genre this is a good place to start, it's not to overwhelming (plot wise), but it's still completely engaging and a really enjoyable read.

~Happy Reading Everyone! 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Stefanie's March Wrap Up



Hi everyone,

I feel like I was kind of absent on the blog this month; with moving and getting sick, life just seemed to get in the way of blogging and reading. I really didn’t read that much this much either; I fell into a reading slump and nothing I read seemed to be the right book for me. I haven’t really experienced a reading slump that bad before. Thankfully I was able to break it by reading Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and continuing into my obsession of British reality shows by reading Charlotte Crosby’s book. She’s from Geordie Shore and I loved it, so I followed it up by reading two more biographies from my all-time favourite group Girls Aloud’s Kimberley Walsh and Cheryl Cole. I don't tend to read biographies of well-known people and it's rare for me to actually enjoy them, so this was a big moment for my reading.

What I Watched: 

I was able to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie with my sister during this month. It was actually pretty good. I know I’ll be in arguments about this movie with people because I am obsessed with the animated one. The new song Evermore by Dan Stevens is the highlight from the movie; his version was so good and he has such a great singing voice. The visuals were great too and I loved the inclusion of the feather duster (who I felt needed a bigger role in the animated version). I recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it yet. Power Rangers on the other hand, not so much.... I've been binge watching Imposters trying to catch up and enjoying the return of Prison Break!

      


What I Read: 

Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter

Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling

Bookman Dead Style by Paige Shelton

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy

Me Me Me by Charlotte Crosby

A Whole Lot of History by Kimberley Walsh

Healthy Is the New Skinny: Your Guide to Self-Love in a "Picture Perfect" World by Katie H. Willcox

The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

Archie Vol. 2 by Mark Waid


Total: 11


Books of the Month:

        

Fantastic Beasts and Bookman Dead Style (cozy mystery)
I had a hard time choosing between the two of them so I decided to just pick both, shout out to The Possessions for being one of the weirdest books I have read in a long time.

I kind of fell off the re-read challenge I had given myself; I think I’ll be able to pick back up on that in the summertime when all of TV is in repeats and I read like a madwoman. I feel like after I moved and displayed all my books I have so many more books I want to read and re-read. I wish I could read as fast as Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds and then my tbr would be completed and I could just focused on reading as many random books as possible. I’m bad for that when I go to the library and just walk into the fiction section and leave with a bag full of books I hadn’t heard of before.


I hope April will be more eventful in the book department and I hope I can read more. I hope everyone had a great March!


Stefanie

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sara's March Wrap Up




Whoa. What a month March was. If you read my last wrap up, you would have seen that I was giving up to TV for Lent. So, no binge watching Netflix/CraveTV or anything for that matter- Until April 17th. This has left me A LOT Of time to read and contemplate life. I actually have been really enjoyed the no TV and I think once this fast is over, I may take on a more restricted TV schedule- I'm toying with the idea of no TV on weekdays. We'll see when we get there. 

March was pretty uneventful for me. Spent some time with a few local bloggers at a board game cafe here in the city, it was fun. I got a new tattoo - you'll need to check out my Instagram if you want to see it (shameless plug).  Had my nephew over for the night last weekend, which was great. He's six, and full of so much energy- we went on an field trip to the bookstore and it was fun walking around with him and talking to him about books. The remainder of the time was spent reading.


The Books:

Number of Books Completed
 11

Physical Books
7

Audiobooks
4

Physical Books: 

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (2 Stars)
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan (3.5 Stars)
Dirty Doctor by Whitney G (3 Stars)
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (4.5 Stars)
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (3 Stars)
I Found You by Lisa Jewell (4 Stars)
Nocturne by Syrie James (2.5 Stars) 


Favourite Read of the Month

I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. The only other novel by Jojo Moyes was Me Before You, which I enjoyed, but it broke my heart. One Plus One is SO different. It's charming and lovely. I've pushed it onto a number of my friends already.

Audiobooks 

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (4.5 Stars)
The Empire State Series by Louise Bay (4 Stars)
Love Unexpected by Louise Bay (3 Stars) 
Forbidden by CD Reiss (1 Star) 

Favourite Listen of the Month



I finally did it guys, I finally read listened to Truly Madly Guilty and I loved it. I have seen a number of reviews that claim this book is a little slow and boring- while I can totally see where they are coming from I think this is just a custom Moriarty trait. She writes about the most mundane things in a way that makes them seem exciting. I really appreciate this.  I want to give major props to the narrator Caroline Lee- of the four books I have completed by Moriarty, I have read two and listened to two. Lee narrated Big Little Lies and did such a fantastic job that it made me want to listen to everything else she's narrated, I loved her rendition of Truly Madly Guilty so much. She has such a knack for giving every character their own voice- it was great experience. 


2017 Resolutions Update: 

If you want to check out my actual resolutions/goals for the year, check them out here
 
Woah betty, March was good month for me. I have 11 books under my belt- 7 of which I physically read.  I am on track for my 100 book goal- I am actually one book ahead. I read more books than I listened to- which is great- because overall for this year I have read more books than listened to, which wasn't the case last month. I read three 2017 releases (go me) - Behind Her Eyes, We Are Okay and I Found You, I also read book three in the Percy Jackson series- so I am one stop closer there. However, I have not made a dent in the audiobooks sitting in my audible library- sigh. I haven't listened to a single book on my back list. I think for April I am going on an audiobook buying band, and every single book I listen to has to be from my back list.  I have 17 to chose from. Wish my luck. 

We still have two weeks of Lent to go, so I still plan on doing lots of reading. I want to try and push myself to read 8 books, but I don't think that will happen this month, so I'll be happy with 6 physical books. I am going away Easter Weekend, and I don't think I'll read a lot during that time. Otherwise, not a lot planned for April.

This Month of the Blog: 



That's it for me and March, I hope you all had a great month. 

~Happy Reading Everyone!





 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling




An approved textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry since publication, Newt Scamander's masterpiece has entertained wizarding families through the generations. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an indispensable introduction to the magical beasts of the wizarding world. Scamander's years of travel and research have created a tome of unparalleled importance. Some of the beasts will be familiar to readers of the Harry Potter books – the Hippogriff, the Basilisk, the Hungarian Horntail ... Others will surprise even the most ardent amateur magizoologist. Dip in to discover the curious habits of magical beasts across five continents ...

**Review copy received from published for my honest review**




I never knew just how busy life would be after I moved. I finally bought most of my furniture and had an epic adventure carrying an IKEA dresser up three flights of stairs (pretty sure my sister will never forgive me for asking for her help) and then me building a bookshelf, only to get an afghan caught in-between the frame. Furniture building will not be on my to-do list for a very looooong time time!

I went through a bit of a reading slump too, not knowing what to read and anything I did try to read didn't make me happy. Then I got sick (I think that's my sister's revenge for the IKEA furniture since I got her cold), I saw the new Beauty and the Beast in theatres and read two amazing books which got me out of the slump: Fantastic Beasts and Me Me Me by Charlotte Crosby (if you don't know who she is, that's alright. She's a reality star from Geordie Shore, a British show in the vein of Jersey Shore, which I have never seen, but I'm obsessed with all things British and I read basically all books published by different British reality stars). I have never laughed so much from a book before and that's what I needed, and it felt appropriate to read, keeping with the British theme I have going. Also I've been re-watching the Harry Potter movies this month, one a week. It's been so nice to be back in the HP world.



I had the original version of Fantastic Beasts; pretty sure I bought it while I was on vacation in the States, along with the Quidditch book. I loved them so much that it felt so wonderful to be in the magical world and having almost a taste of what being a Hogwarts student would be like (still waiting on my letter, but now that I've moved the owl is probably so confused as to where to drop it off).


I loved the illustrations in the updated version, they made it feel like a real textbook. My favourite part of the book was the inclusion of the six new creatures from the Fantastic Beasts movie. I myself would love to have a Niffler, Jarvey or a Bowtruckle. I should just go into Magizoology so I can work with all these creatures!




The Foreword By the Author section made me laugh out loud. It talked about how a copy of this book was made aware to the Muggle population and I just love how Newt Scamander handled how the entire book was just fiction, nothing to worry about you poor Muggles (that's in my own words, although I'm sure I can actually picture the character of Newt saying you poor Muggles, or No-Maj).

I did miss the little comments between Harry, Hermoine and Ron that were included in the original version. Ron's were the funniest, because they usually were about Hagrid and how he shouldn't be allowed to be around any of these creatures or discussing the Classification of the creatures, ranging from Boring to Known-Wizard Killer.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I honestly couldn't give this book anything less than five stars. The entire HP world has basically been my entire life, since the publication of the first book, so any new new addition to the world will always be highly loved by myself!


Until my next review,

Stefanie

Also, I hope next week my life goes back to normal and I can get you a review on time, apologizes for missing last week.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sara's Birthday Wishlist







Hello Friends,

In about a week and a half (April 7th), I will be turning 30!!! Eeeeeeks! It blows my mind that I will be 30, I feel like I just graduated high school, I remember turning 25. Where has the time gone? I don't know, I just don't know.

I have been saying for months now, that all I want for my birthday are books- I don't want anything else- just books. However, this has meant that I have had to keep myself from buying any books. This is usually pretty easy for me, but there has been a time or two where I had to reign it in and walk out of the bookstore empty handed.

Since I no longer use Amazon- I have been using the Chapter/Indigo website to keep track of all the books I want to read/wouldn't mind owning, and I thought I'd do a sneaky little post and share with you some of the books I am hoping to get for my birthday. 

***disclaimer- I am not expecting any gifts for my birthday. I just thought this would be fun to share with you, these are basically books I really want to read.***

The List-



1) Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier- I have heard nothing but good things about this book and I really want to get my hands on it. I don't even know a whole lot about this particular story, but I still want it in my life. Particularly this cover or the red and fold version of it- I think it's stunning.

2) Wire and Nerves by Marissa Meyer - I loved the Lunar Chronicles saga, and I loved Iko, and I think the concept of a graphic novel as a way to share her adventures is genius. I would love to get my hands on this.








 3)  Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman - I really like Neil Gaiman's writing and I am SUPER curious about this one. I am half Norwegian (believe it or not), and I think this is going to be a really great
story.




4) The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden - Another story I don't know a whole lot about, but still one I think I would enjoy. I just know it takes place in Russia, and I like anything Russian (I think).

5) The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking - I just love the cover of this book, and I kind of love the idea of Hygge.  It looks so cozy, don't ask me why I think that.










6) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - Again, I know very little about this book. But a few people whose opinion I value, really enjoyed it. It's also by a Canadian author - which is awesome!

7) Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel - This is a sci-fi novel, but it sounds SO good. A friend of mine read it a little while ago and really enjoyed it. And I have been eager to get my hands on it.

8) The Anne of Green Gable's box set- This is a bit of a hefty request, but this is a Canadian classic and I have never read any of these books- and I want to. The box set that's out right now is absolutely beautiful and I think it would look lovely on my shelf.


 

A few Pre-orders I wouldn't mind are

9) A Court of Mist and Fury (The paperback) by Sarah J. Maas- This is being released on May 2nd and I need it, I just need it. I am excited to reread this book, and to finally get to A Court of Wings and Ruin (which again I will wait a year to own).

10) The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord - I have read a couple of Emery's novels and I have enjoyed them, her newest one, out May 16th has been getting a lot of buzz and I wouldn't mind owning this one. 


There you have it a short list of 10ish books I wouldn't mind getting for my birthday. If you want to see what I actually keep on my Chapters/Indigo wishlist check it out here.

~Happy Reading Everyone





Monday, March 27, 2017

My Thoughts: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour


You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.


Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.


I did it! I read this book. There has been quite a bit of buzz surrounding Nina LaCour's latest novel- We Are Okay, people seem to be loving it. So I decided it read it as one of my 2017 reads. One of the first things I noticed when I first picked this book up from the library was how small it was- not only is it short at just over 230 pages, but it's overall size is itty bitty. I absolutely loved the cover, I want to own this book just for the cover alone.

We Are Okay is Marin's story and basically it's her trying to figure out her like. Where she came from, where she's been and where she's going now. She fled her hometown very suddenly and the end of a very eventful summer and didn't tell anyone. Now, it's three months later, Christmas time and Marin is finally ready to share why she left. So, Mable- the BFF is coming and Marin is a mess.

I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I struggled to connect with the story and the characters. I didn't think there was anything particularly special about anyone. Honestly I thought it was kind of boring. A lot of the book was Marin worrying about Mable's reaction to her story. I think Marin's emotional struggles were important at the beginning on the story, but three quarters in, it got to be a little tedious and borderline whiny. I found there was very little gross in the first couple sections of the book.

We Are Okay is told from both the past and the present. The past is the summer before Marin flees. She's home with her grandfather, who had been her sole care provided since her mother died when she was very young. The present is the abandoned campus with both Mable and Marin and their awkward interactions. I much preferred the stretches of the book that were sharing the back story- the past. I think it revealed a lot of Marin's character and where she was coming from (as it was meant to). The present, as I said before, was little tough for me.

 I really appreciated the relationship Marin had with her grandfather, they loved one another and respected one another and it was lovely. It wasn't a perfect set up, they had these rules and boundaries that were a little odd- which are explained and are kind of a key element to the story- I really liked their little unconventional family. I also really appreciated Marin and Mable's "past" friendship. They were your typical high school friendship. Marin's second home was with Mable's family. They did everything together, you'd think nothing could tear these two a part.

While We Are Okay wasn't an amazing book, there are elements to it that are incredibly important. Both Marin and Mable are LGBTQ*, however this isn't a key feature of the story- it's just there. Mable's family is a Latin American family and their culture is rich and diverse, and again, this is not a big deal, I think Nina LaCour did a great job incorporating these little elements of diversity and making them just a normal, every day thing- because that's exactly what they are- normal life.  

Overall, I didn't love We Are Okay. It was a fast read, and it had some interesting things to talk about. But I didn't find it mind blowing. In all honesty, I find this story to be pretty forgettable. I think it had a lot of potential, but something got lost. I would suggest you read it- particularly if you've been curious about it, or you like contemporary, otherwise, I think there are better stories out there.

~Happy Reading Everyone.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter



The princess is dead. Long live the princess.

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed…or so everyone thought.

Now Grace Blakely knows the truth: There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution—which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne.

And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.


Hi everyone,

Sorry for my absence lately. I moved recently and my apartment now looks like a disaster zone. I’ve been spending all my free time making it slightly livable (mostly so I don’t kill myself trying to walk down a hallway). I’ve very accident prone, so when I first moved in I for sure thought I’d hurt myself. Instead all I’ve done so far is burn my arm on the oven door and I did indeed trip over some of the boxes (of books nonetheless).

I did get to finishing Take the Key and Lock her Up by Ally Carter (it's been the only book I've finished since I moved). All I can say is, it was the biggest disappointment of 2017. I love Ally Carter, she is one of the five auto-buy authors I have (the others being Meg Cabot, Maria V. Synder, Tera Lynn Childs and Beth Kendrick) and I always know I’ll get at least a trilogy from her. That means a solid three year commitment of awesome action packed novels!

Embassy Row series, not so much.

Take the Key and Lock her Up was more of an OK. The first book wasn’t as good as her previous novels but I was still interested throughout. Book two I remember nothing about it and after reading this one, well I don’t know what really happened and I’m saddened to say I honestly don’t even care that I have no idea what happened.

To me this entire book felt like Grace (Our protagonist) was just complaining and whining about her life. It was full of choppy short sentences that drove me crazy. I’m not sure if they were that short to create tension or rising action, but it just annoyed me. I won’t quote any of the sentences, but some of the sentences were just so dumb; one of my biggest pet peeves was the use of some of the silliest adjectives I have ever read.

The adults read like they were carbon copies of one another; maybe I’m just saying that because I felt so old reading this book, but it felt like all the adults were the same person just given different names.
Plus the teen angst, holy cheese, was this filled with teen angst. It felt like I was back in high school, but worse. If the characters were going off in their private planes and saving the day, they were complaining. I think that actually might have been Grace’s secret weapon, not the whole secret society/royal family plot they had going on. I didn't even feel there was much action/adventure going on either.

After these three books I just realized, nobody could catch one teenager?…… I mean I get that’s the whole point to the story but really, not one adult caught her or when they had the chance, nobody did anything. Brings me back to the incompetent/carbon copy adults thing from my previous paragraph.

I never thought I would say this about an Ally Carter series, but I’m so glad this one is over. This doesn’t hold anything to Heist Society or Gallagher Girls.

A sad little star for this one and an extra one because I finished it, for a complete two stars out of five.  I'm hoping during the next week I can get everything unpacked and finished so I can get back to reading, I've missed it.


Happy reading,


Stefanie

Monday, March 13, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR



Hey-ooooooooo- it has been a minute since I participated in a Top Ten Tuesday- Hosted by the girls over at The Broke and Bookish. I don't think I participated at all in 2015 or 2016. I found that I was being super repetitive with my lists so I needed a break.  Anywho... here we are, this week's question is a good one.


Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR




1) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo- So excited for this one. My housemate read it and really enjoyed it (as have many of you). Therefore it's moved it's way up my list. I also really love the Grisha and I am eager to see more of their world.

 2) I Found You by Lisa Jewell- This is a book I need to read for review, but honestly. I am SO excited for it. It's a mystery novel that sounds pretty twisty. 

3) Unseen World by Liz Moore- This one snuck up on me. I haven't seen a lot of people talk about this book, but still, I am pretty curious about it. I don't know all that much about it, However,I think it's a good thing. 




4) We Are Okay by Nena LaCour- I absolutely love this cover. It's stunning. I am curious about this story. I have heard it's heartbreaking and hopeful. It's also a lot shorter than I thought, and I think I'll power through it.

5) Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas- I need to get his read. Like now. 

6) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas- I am SUPER skeptical about this book, even with all it's praise- I just don't know- I feel the need to give it a try for myself. 

7) The Chosen by JR Ward- This is book number 15 in this series. I am invested, and I will certainly be reading this one. These characters are like family now. 




8) A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab- With the final book in this trilogy recently released, I think I am finally ready for this one. I've heard it's epic and I can't wait. 

9) The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty- Another review book, but another one I am looking forward to. I have really been digging fantasy these days (although, I don't know if this is fantasy or not). 

10) I See You by Clare Mackintosh- I adored I Let You Go, and I am eager to read this one. Soon! 


There you have it, my first Top Ten Tuesday in 2+ years.

~Happy Reading Everyone



Monday, March 6, 2017

Sara's February Recap





Well, hello.

If I thought January was low key... it was nothing compared to February. I don't know what happened to the month, what did I do? Cause I certainly did not read very much, and I don't think I watched that much TV- I don't know. I did go to the movies a few times this past month (which is a lot for me).  

I saw Lion, Fifty Shades Darker and La La Land




I actually enjoyed every single one. They were all so different from one another and entertaining in their own right. I think La La Land was my favourite. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have such amazing chemistry. The music was great. However, Lion was heartbreaking, and Fifty Shades, well it was what it was. 

Other than that, a pretty uneventful month. 




The Books:

Number of books completed 

5 
Physical books 

3


Audiobooks 

2
Physical Books: 
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (2 Stars)
Three Simple Rules by Nikki Sloane (4 Stars)
Three Hard Lessons by Nikki Sloane (3.5 Stars)


No Favourite of the month- or none that really stood out for me as being great. Although I did enjoy the two Nikki Sloane novels- they aren't to everyone's taste. So, I am going to leave it this month. 

Audiobooks: 

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (3 Stars)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (5 Stars) 

Favourite Listen of the Month





I am finally done the Harry Potter reread that I started back in late 2015. What a magical adventure it has been. Rereading The Deathly Hallows was special to me, as it was the first time I reread this book since I first read back in 2007. It was a beautiful and emotional experience it has been. 



2017 Resolutions Update:
For a recap of my 2017 "resolutions" go here
I did not read very much in February, I don't know what the heck I was doing. It's like my goal to read 2500 pages really freaked me out, and I set myself up for failure. Oh well. As of the end of February, I was still on track for my 100 book goal, and I read more books than I listened to. However, any of my other goals, including the 2017 release I failed at. However, I did start a 2017 release in February with every intention of finishing, but I got distracted. And both audiobooks I listened to, were from the library. 
Anywho, February, kind of was a write off for me. I anticipate March to be better, because I gave up TV for Lent, not only TV, but I also deleted the Facebook and Youtube app from my phone. I literally have eliminated all distractions form my my life for the next 6+ weeks. All I can do it read.  Wish me luck. 
This Month on the Blog: 


That's it for February, happy March everyone!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale


These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.


**ARC received from Simon and Schuster Canada for my honest review**



Hi everyone,

Turns out I lied to you when I said I would be reviewing Take the Key and Lock Her Up; I will get to that one though. Turns out I was given an ARC of The Beast is an Animal and have decided to review that instead. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing the ARC for this!!

I can for sure say that I have never read a book like this before. The closest book I can think about comparing it to would be The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich; both were extremely atmospheric and at one point within the forest setting I felt so claustrophobic and I loved it.

I don’t know how I felt about this story. I really enjoy books that are written in first person and this one was in third. I think that threw me off, because of this it took me a long time to get into the story. When I finally did, I realized I had no idea what was actually happening. Even after closing the book I wasn’t actually sure what the plot was.

My favorite part of the whole thing was the atmospheric feeling of the story; I can’t praise that enough. I don’t watch horror movies because I’m too much of a chicken, but I love horror-ish books. That feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen and you desperately need to know by turning that page, only to find out it’s the end of the chapter. I love creepy as well and this was full of that starting with the cover. Have you seen that cover? Holy Soul Eaters Batman!

The opening chapter really sets the creepiness and made me feel like I was put inside a Grimm fairy tale (I mean, those were so darn creepy. I think that’s why I love traditional fairy tales so much). The only downside- the first chapter was the best chapter of the entire book. The pacing of this story was so slow, to the point where I wanted to close the book, yet there was something that really made me want to keep reading and to learn about the mystery of the Soul Eaters. However, I feel like nothing was really explained and as though I was expected to know the backstory of the characters and the setting.

Alys was an interesting main character, in the point that I couldn’t figure her out. In parts of the story I liked her and in other parts I didn't. I feltlike she had the best intentions about her fellow townspeople, but it fell pretty flat. Don’t ask me about any other characters because I can’t name them and they were all pretty forgettable.

I can see people totally loving this story, because of the Gothic creepiness. This book should have been for me, but the pacing was too much of a drag (see what I did there!) for me to be fully engaged and excited to read it. Maybe it’s the Soul Eaters that appealed to me and kept me reading it. I don’t know why I kept reading it, but I guess I’m happy I did; I always get a weird, almost guilty feeling at times when I mark a book as DNF.

I’ll probably check out the author’s next book when it’s released. Give me more creepiness and a faster plot and I’d be all over that! 

This is a two out of five star read.

Happy reading,


Stefanie

Monday, February 27, 2017

My Thoughts: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood


As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible "adult" around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.






This book, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. What can I say about this book? I hated it. I did not like it at all. I finished this one a few weeks ago and found that I to take some time just to get my thoughts in order. I remember reading the last page and my initial thoughts were why and what. Why did Bryn Greenwood chose to write this book? What was the point of this story?

The story begins when Wavy is young, living with her maternal aunt as her mother has been incarcerated for some reason or another. Early on in the story we know that Wavy is a guarded and distrustful child, who doesn't speak- not because she can't, because she chooses not to. As the story progressed, Wavy is returned to her mother and their dysfunctional existence on "the ranch". It is here the Wavy meets Kellen and their odd relationship begins.

When I first met Kellen and throughout most of the I really liked him and I felt bad for his situation. He was not the brightest crayon in the box, but he was kind and loving, and people took advantage of that. In the beginning all Kellen wanted to was to take care of Wavy, to give her a chance in this life she was put into. It was sweet. However as the story progressed and they both got older, I grew more and more uncomfortable with how things were evolving. Their relationship morphed into something different. This aspect of the story bothered me WAY more than I thought it would. Maybe this is an example of Greenwood's skill as a writer, but the way we as readers experienced the development of Wavy's feelings for Kellen and vice versa- guys, it was weird okay-  just weird. IT gave me the heebie jeebies.

The writing was phenomenal. I am certainly a fan of Greenwood's writing. She weaved a wicked story- and the angle she took in telling it was kind of incredible. She didn't normalize the situation, but she also didn't address things and make them seem like they were anything but normal. She was able to write the story and be very impartial to the events. Greenwood was able to do this by telling the story from various different perspectives. The story isn't just told with Wavy and Kellen's perspective, there are multiple voices who tell this tale. I am a big of this kind of story telling- I think it brings an extra dimension to the narrative.

For the most part, I liked Wavy, I loved her character growth, I thought she got the short end of the stick, family wise. No one wanted to take the time to get to know her, which is probably why she connected with Kellen the way she did. However, there were times, I found myself annoyed with her choices, and how she chose to view some things. Sometimes I found some of her choices didn't fit with the way it appeared her character was going. But overall, I liked her and I really wanted different things for her. Her mother and father were real pieces of work- that's all I'll say. Wavy wasn't without amazing supports though. She had a family that cared for her deeply, they just did not know how to interact with her.

The biggest issue I had with this book- as I mentioned earlier, was the point of the story. I get controversial themes- those don't scare me, but they need to have a point. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things didn't feel like it had a point. Was it just being controversial to be controversial. Greenwood has said this is semi autobiographical to a relationship she had at 13 with a much older man, which meant more to her then, than some of the adult relationships she has had. So what? It's okay for an 11 year old and a 25 year old to have a romantic relationship? I can't reconcile her experience to the story she chose to write. It was a hugely inappropriate relationship on so many levels and it really made me feel yucky- I can't describe this any other way. I felt gross reading this book.

Overall, I did not like All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. Regardless of the flawless writing and amazing character development. The relationship was to much for me- and I just did not see the point of the story. I will perhaps read more of Greenwood, depending on what she produces. I am curious to hear the opinion of any others who have read this book- There are not a lot of negative reviews of this one on Goodreads (at least, none that have actually read the whole book- mostly those who DNF'd).  Or is this something you are curious now, and want to read, I'm curious, so share your thoughts. Share them with me.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts:Three Mini Reviews



Hi everyone,

Sorry about the lack of posts last week. The plague (or at least what I’m calling it) is going around my work and I think I caught a mild case of it, I wasn’t feeling like myself last week. I’m back to feeling normal and I decided instead of doing one longer review, I thought I’d do shorter reviews for a couple of the books I had read throughout the last couple weeks to make up for it.

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann
Showing Off (Upside Down Magic) series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins




Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world. When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister's life.



This was a 2.5 star read for me. It was suggested to me by one of my trusty book friends. We read it as a buddy-read and came to the same conclusion: awesome idea, but the plot itself was lacking. The cover was what drew me in and I loved the concept of twins. I have a sister, but she’s younger; the whole idea of twin telepathy really interests me.

The first couple of chapters were so awesome, I felt for sure this was going to be an awesome mystery. Then I got deeper into the book and realized just how much I hated Maddy as a main character; she was so mean to her sister and I just couldn’t forgive her. It got to the point that at any mention of Maddy I found I couldn’t continue reading. I was also hoping for some big in your face plot-twist or something and I was left with nothing. To be honest, I can’t really tell you anything that happened in the book.





Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross-country; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places.



This was a 3 star read for me. I told myself this year I needed to read more out of my comfort zone- poetry is so far out it’s almost in another galaxy. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one, but I must say I enjoyed the journal entries that were included. I think some of the plot points got lost and rushed over and I feel like this might be due to novel being in verse and each chapter was less than a page. I felt no connection to Addie and I felt like the character growth wasn’t ever achieved. Sure Addie goes through a huge life experience, but I don’t know if I felt she learned from it.

I really think this book would have benefited from full prose and not verse. It was like reading one page of Addie saying something and then the next page she completely changed her mind and that was normal. I felt too that Addie herself as a character was rushed, she wasn’t very fleshed out. Addie barely had time to deal with her pregnancy, when suddenly it was over and she acted like nothing had ever happened. I’m a little disappointed with this novel; I was expecting really strong characters and didn’t get that. I did enjoy reading the book itself; it was nice to read a book written in a different style. I’m tempted to read the author’s first novel, hopefully I can track it down at my local library.

 



Some people in school are afraid of the kids in the Upside-Down Magic class. Others just call them flops. But Nory and her friends in Upside-Down Magic won't let that stop them. Not with a school-wide talent show coming up! Except... Nory's afraid her fluxing magic will go wonky and upset her father. Pepper is worried that her abilities as a Fierce will make all the animals in the show run wild. Bax has some extreme new magic skills, but they can also be extremely embarrassing. And Elliott suspects there's a Sparkie spy who's looking to uncover UDM's talent-show secrets, and to use those secrets against them.






I saw this series at my library and thought why not try it out; I try to read as many middle-grade novels I can to stay up to date when it comes to ordering books for the library I work at. I must say, this series is rather adorable and I love the tagline for the copy I read: nobody puts this Dritten in a corner. Nice mix for adults to have a laugh, while it's appropriate for the target audience (kind of like Disney movies).

This was a fun light read, full of wonky magic and spells. I'm so happy the cover caught my attention and I started reading them; I would have loved this series when I was in middle school! It reminded me of Castle Hangnail, which I have reviewed and I have read Mlynowski's other middle-grade series Whatever After. This was a solid 3.5 rating for me.


Currently Reading:  

Take the Key and Lock her Up by Ally Carter
This has been one interesting series. I loved book one, but book two felt like nothing happened. I read it on it's release day, but I can't tell you anything that happened. It's been nice getting back into Carter's writing, she always makes espionage fun! I'll be reviewing it soon!



   

 Re-Read Update:

Ghostgirl wasn't as good as I remembered, but it was still as macabre as I wanted. I gave it a three star rating this time around, when it was originally a four. I still love the plot: Charlotte Usher dies after choking on a gummy bear; if you haven't read it I highly recommend it if you love some dark comedy.


My next re-read is going to be My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison. This is one of my all-time favorite books. I'd give it fifteen stars out of five if I could and I'm so excited to be reading this!







That's all for me today. Thanks for your patience about me missing last week. I'll be sure to be on the ball for my next full review and month-end post (it's crazy it's the 25th already!).


Until my next review,


Stefanie

Monday, February 20, 2017

Series I Probably Won't be Finishing

Hello friends, about a year ago I did an inventory of all the unfinished series and was a little stunned by what it revealed- check it out here. I had over fifty unfinished series, which is madness. Since then, I have finished a couple series, but I have also started a couple more.  I really hate starting a series, and not finishing them. However, after some serious thought, I have come up with a pretty substantial list of series I just will not be continuing. So, I thought I'd share those books with you.





1) The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare- I finished City of Fallen Angels, the fourth book in this series, and decided I was done. Personally, I think the series should have ended with City of Ashes, but what do I know?

2) The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini- I've read both Eragon and Eldest a loooooong time ago, and I really enjoyed them. But because it's been so long, I think I've just lost interest, and there are SOOOOOOOOO many other books to read.

3) Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl- I've only read the first book in this series, and I found it very unmemorable. I have zero interest in continuing with this series.

4) The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig- I was really excited to read this book when I read the synopsis, a ship and time travel- sounds like my cup of tea. However, the book was actually pretty boring. Nothing really happens, so I won't be reading the sequel, The Ship Beyond Time.





5) Fallen by Lauren Kate- This was one of the first books I read when I started blogging, and boy was it bad. I didn't think so when I first read it, but now that I have read so many other books and so many other stories, I have realized The Fallen series is not good, and I have no intention of continuing.




6) Bloodlines by Richelle Mead - I read this one before I started the Vampire Academy series and I Vampire Academy series, but I don't know, I thought it was fine, but, kind of boring. I may give this another go once I have finished the

7) Wildefire by Karsten Knight- This was another book I read my first year blogging, and I really enjoyed it. But again, it's been to long and I've lost interest.









8) Stork by Wendy Delsol- This is a little series that is pretty underrated. I read the first two books Stork and Frost and I really enjoyed them.  But, the synopsis of the third book sounds a little hokey.  I may read it, it's one book, but I don't know when or if that will happen.

9) Starbound by Amie Kaufman- I read These Broken Stars and wasn't so in love with it that I felt the need to rush and read This Shattered World when it came out. I am not opposed to reading the rest of the series, but I am not in any rush.

10) Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi- I just hated this book when I first read it. I am pretty sure I am in the minority with this one. But no, I can't.





11) The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa- Fairies are my thing, I love them. I was pretty excited about this series. I read The Iron King and thought it was okay, went on to read The Iron Daughter and again, thought it okay. I wasn't terribly eager to read the next in the series, and now it's been a few years, and my reading tastes have matured.

12) The Syrena Legacy by Anna Banks - Another series that I really enjoyed reading. I read the first two books, Of Poseidon and Of Triton, but when Of Neptune came out, I had lost interest.


The Maybe's 

So there are a few series that I haven't fully decided to let go of. But I need your input. on- should I keep going? I am on the fence a bit about the following.



13) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes- I am not sure whether it's worth reading After You. I really liked , and I loved Lou, but I am not sure if reading on will ruin things for me.
Me Before You

14) Choas Walking by Patrick Ness -  I read The Knife of Never Letting Go at the insistence of  Aylee from Recovering Potter Addict. I really liked it, but it was really my thing. I could keep going, but I don't know. What say you?

15) Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian- I think I liked this one (I've only read the first book). I am a little curious about where things went/ended. But again, I am not sure it's worth the time.





Well that's enough I think, there are other unfinished series I could talk about it. But I haven't fully convinced myself that I am quitting. Maybe this time next year there will be another post. 
"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
— Roald Dahl